notes.txt / a new curriculum
november 2019 | 2 min read
is our educational curriculum the best it could be?
after completing school, I realized how many inaccuracies were taught in our science & history classes, and how many important skills we missed
for example, why don't we spend more time learning about learning?
- there are mental techniques, such as the memory palace, which enhance your ability to store and remember knowledge by 10x (not an exaggeration!). how did we miss that in school?
plus other omissions:
basic truths about the universe — like evolution, how the mind works, and fundamental physics concepts like relativity — were given brief coverage if any.
absolute pitch, the rare ability to identify a musical note like F# just by hearing it, can be a great benefit to a musician. you can learn the skill in a matter of weeks, but it can only be acquired before the age of 7. only 0.01% of people end up learning it in time!
below are some general ideas for a different school curriculum, focused on bootstrapping students for better success in learning & life:
- Memory techniques -- memory palace, elaborative encoding, note-taking, mind mapping, Anki / spaced repetition, mnemonics like PEMDAS, SOHCAHTOA.
- How the brain works.
- How to read a book. How to understand an argument.
- Sleep's role in learning. How to get better sleep. Schools should start late enough for all students to get enough sleep.
- How to use the Internet to learn: Google, Wikipedia, etc.
- Physical health: good eating and exercise habits
- Finding your interests and strengths
- Organization: Tidying up. Keeping a journal, planner, or similar system.
- Personal finance.
- Wide exposure to interest areas like music, visual art, dancing, athletics, etc.
- How to listen: in-person, non-verbal communication, and online.
- How to be a friendly, well-liked person.
- Writing of all forms including texts, tweets, emails, and articles. We over-emphasize essaywriting and reading old literature.
- Language as a holistic displine: English, etymology & Greek/Latin roots, foreign languages like Chinese, alternate forms of communication like Sign Language and Emoji.
- Public speaking, presentations.
- Group problem solving. Group competitions.
- Life & evolution: how we think life emerged. what is life, DNA. how evolution explains many questions, like why the grass is green. how & why cells divide and form into shapes and functions.
- Human beings: history of humanity, what it means to be human, human anatomy & biology, human literature, religions, cultures, and stories
- The Universe: how all matter is made inside stars, what is a galaxy, the big bang, what is matter made of, spacetime, relativity. how microwaves, visible light, Wi-Fi, and radio waves are all the same thing.
- Computers: how they work, useful programs, how to use them, how to program them
- Society: how towns, cities, nations are organized and run. Capitalism: taxes, what is a stock, what is a market, what is a company, how consumer demand drives what is sold.
this list isn't organized around the traditional areas of study: math, science, social studies, english, art, etc.
instead, it focuses about learning about how to improve ourselves, our ability to communicate, and our understanding of the world. the traditional areas of study will be in service to these goals, and would be given greater meaning